Young Saudi architects make a difference by renovating schools

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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
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Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. (AN photo)
Updated 08 July 2018

Young Saudi architects make a difference by renovating schools

  • Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. Ten young architects founded the group back in 2015. 
  • Despite the limitations of time and resources, the group (which has eight strong, independent females among its members) has successfully renovated five schools, which has had a positive impact on 650 students.

JEDDAH: Three years ago, during the holy month of Ramadan, a group of young enthusiasts volunteered in an Iftar Sayem campaign, serving and distributing iftar (breakfast) meals to fasting people in need. 

When the month ended, instead of winding up the project they decided to expand it to continue serving the community even after Ramadan. This eagerness to serve humanity led to the establishment of the Ihyaa Group. 

Bayan Hallak (one of the group’s founders) told Arab News: “We could not accept the fact of going back to our normal routines, and usual lives. We had the energy and the knowledge, so we thought why not start giving more to people?”

Ihyaa is a social initiative that focuses on school renovation projects in Jeddah’s poor neighborhoods. Ten young architects founded the group back in 2015. 

“We wanted to make a sustainable change to our community,” Hallak said. 

“By doing something that has an effect, not only on a single person or a family but rather on the generations to come. That was when we decided we wanted to renovate schools and create better learning environments.”

The group’s main objective is to develop a generation of educated and socially active students, by providing them with the opportunity to participate in the renovation of their own schools. 

Hallak said: “In some schools, we worked on the lack of basic needs for health, safety and sometimes education itself.”

Despite the limitations of time and resources, the group (which has eight strong, independent females among its members) has successfully renovated five schools, which has had a positive impact on 650 students. Their work included building classrooms and improving the learning environment by enhancing ventilation and light. They used their own architectural skills and knowledge to improve the schools’ interiors, drawing interactive arts and painting walls.

The group used psychological techniques using different colors in classrooms. “After we finished one of our projects, the school’s principal was surprised by the impact of our work on her students,” Hallak said.

They also do periodic checkups, maintenance, and activities throughout the year. For instance, they have created libraries in three different schools. As a result, their work has had a positive impact on students. Hallak explained: “Now, some of the schools are being used for (adult) literacy classes and craft workshops in the afternoon.”

Ihyaa has been supported through collaborations with local people and sponsorship from suppliers and organizations through their corporate social responsibility programs. This way the group receives the means to do its work effectively. Aiming to help more students every year, the group is planning to work on two more projects this summer. 

“We are passionate to do more, and people are always willing to collaborate and support our work for the development of the community. We educate children today to enhance their living standards in the hope that in the future they will have the power to serve their community by themselves and continue the cycle of giving,” Hallak said.


Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 11 July 2020

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.